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Another choral piece arranged for strings

Discussion in 'Member's Compositions' started by Pantonal, Mar 6, 2018.

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  1. Pantonal

    Pantonal Senior Member

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    Nov 9, 2017
    Hi All,

    I've arranged another of my choral pieces for strings. This time I'm uploading the choral score because I really like this text (I found it in a motivational book). I got permission to set the text and one performance, but that hasn't happened. So I've arranged it for strings.

    In setting these pieces I've discovered some issues with the string library I was using (Kirk Hunter Concert Strings 3). It doesn't seem to respond to cc11, interestingly enough the strings in his Virtuoso Ensembles respond quite well to cc11 so I've switched libraries for this piece. I'm still working up my chops in editing the midi file, but at least I seem to have most of the parameters working correctly.

    Final note: I realize string orchestras don't clap, but choirs often do and the claps toward the end are an integral part of the choral work.

     

    Attached Files:

  2. OP
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    Pantonal

    Pantonal Senior Member

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    Nov 9, 2017
    50 views, but no comments. So I guess I either did a fantastic job or it sucks. Candid comments welcome.
     
  3. TomNoyd

    TomNoyd No one special

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    Mar 25, 2013
    It sucks.

    I’m joking, please don’t kill me.

    I get the impression this piece would sound more cohesive when playing with the choir. Despite staying in the same tempo, keeping the same articulations, and not diverting too wildly from the general harmonic structure, I feel as though it jumps around a bit and could use something to glue it all together.

    Without opening the text, was there a particular period of music you were intentionally pulling from? I’m a nitwit when it comes to music history and theory but it makes me think it would be somewhere between Baroque and Classical.

    Those claps really caught me off guard! I thought it was someone shooting off their bee bee gun.

    I like it though. I just feel like the choir is what will bring it all together.
     
  4. OP
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    Pantonal

    Pantonal Senior Member

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    Nov 9, 2017
    This piece admittedly less harmonically adventurous than my usual. You're also correct the text is the key to this piece, but given that it hasn't been performed I felt I needed to do something to move it in that direction. That's why I'm disappointed you didn't open the score (and see the text). The included score is for the choral version, not the strings arrangement.

    I laughed at your response to the claps, but that does bring up an important point. How to make two disparate elements sound like they're happening in the same room. I can roll off some high end, add a bit more reverb to the claps and bring the level down, but I don't know if that will make them sound like they're in the same room. Would you have some other suggestions for how to accomplish that?
     
  5. Critz

    Critz Senior Member

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    May 7, 2017
    There are few things I'm pretty sure in this life. One of those? This is not a choral.
     
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    Pantonal

    Pantonal Senior Member

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    Nov 9, 2017
    Critz, Wow, I didn't think I was being obtuse. You're right, this recording uses strings instead of choir. I wanted to hear what it sounded like as just music. Of course when I hear it I fill in the text, which is why I included the choral score. Did you misunderstand me or misunderestimate me?
     
  7. Critz

    Critz Senior Member

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    May 7, 2017
    That kind of writing is absolutely not suitable to be performed by a choir (. Then of course, you can ask singer to sing whatever you want, but that's far from any kind of traditional writing for choir. On paper it looks almost fine, it looks definitely very interesting as a piece of music, but it's almost impossible to be performed by a choir..
     
    Patrice likes this.
  8. Luke W

    Luke W Senior Member

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    Nov 8, 2013
    Nashville TN
    While it would be on the challenging side, I've been in choirs that could pull this off. Not as difficult as 20th century atonal stuff, that's for sure. My church choir is better than average and could probably tackle this with enough rehearsal.

    Pantonal - I wonder if this piece would translate better as a woodwind ensemble? The phrasing would take lots of time and finesse to make strings perform it well. Woodwind samples have a natural attack that may play better. Just a thought - I enjoyed the piece!
     
  9. OP
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    Pantonal

    Pantonal Senior Member

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    Nov 9, 2017
    You've looked at the score, please tell me what would almost impossible about it. I'm in a community choir and we've done more challenging music than this. You mentioned traditional writing for choir, what does that mean, volunteer church choir? FYI, my initial thought for this piece was that it would be performed by very good high school or university choir. IMO it's no more difficult than pieces by Eric Whitacre or Morten Lauridsen that I've performed.

    Luke, thank you for the suggestion of a woodwind ensemble. I'm just getting back to virtual music after a decade or more and while I've collected woodwind and brass libraries I haven't mastered them. It seems every library is its own puzzle to figure out how to use it, but on this forum in saying that, I know I'm preaching to the choir. ;)

    Steve
     
  10. TomNoyd

    TomNoyd No one special

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    Mar 25, 2013
    Sorry for the delayed response. I don't hop on to VI Control very often anymore.

    Remember that part where I said I'm a nitwit when it comes to music history and theory?...well, I can't read sheet music so I'm one of those illiterate people who needs to hear it to get your intention, unfortunately.

    In this particular case, the clap sample itself just sounds a little odd (it truly does sound like a bee bee gun!). Whether it's a sample library or individual WAV's, maybe you could dig around the Internet to find some distant sounding claps. It has its own baked-in ambiance but I personally really, REALLY like this freebie from Red Room Audio:

    https://redroomaudio.com/product/snaps-claps-slaps-stomps-shouts/

    Now, after that, I'm not really an expert on blending instruments together to give a convincing illusion that they're in the same room. My caveman solution is using a hall-sounding reverb on the master (or route all the instruments to the same reverb bus/receive). All the other solutions you brought up sound like that would work though.
     
  11. OP
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    Pantonal

    Pantonal Senior Member

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    Nov 9, 2017
    The point of choral music is always the text first. I included the sheet music because I wanted people to know the text I was setting. As for being able to read music you might surprise yourself by being able to follow along, or you might get lost, impossible to say without trying. As someone who is not a nitwit regarding music history and theory I consider the ability to read a basic skill, except when it comes to reading piano music, there I can't sight read my way out of a paper bag. There's something about the extra task of telling fingers where to go that my brain cannot connect. I can sight sing a single line, I can read flute music, I can follow along a score, but reading piano music with any fluency is beyond my skills.
    Thanks for the link, I'll look into that.

    Steve
     
  12. wlynn

    wlynn Member

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    Mar 19, 2016
    Hi Steve, I'm sure you would enjoy some feedback from some of the accomplished composers here, and as a beginner/hobbyiest I'm reluctant to comment, but I do want to take part. First, and most importantly, thank you for posting the score. Members who post scores along with their compositions do a great service to those of us trying to learn.

    I'm not crazy about the text, but I really like your composition. Harmonically it agrees with me, with where I am musically right now. Does that make any sense? For example, I don't get the fugue you recently posted at all. I don't understand the point of atonal music, but that's no doubt my problem. Besides the harmony, I very much like the polyphony in the piece and the melody. I think Be Glad You Are You is very much a choral piece. I would think that any college choir would be able perform it without much difficulty. I would like to hear a choir do that forte chord in bar 15 and 32 - pretty cool. I love the rhythm in the moderato starting in bar 119. And I really like that transition (?) in bars 99 - 104 where you drop down a minor third, twice. I would really like to hear actual choral basses for that part that starts in bar 34. The contra basses sound kind of anemic to me. I think that subject needs to have more authority. And finally (this is just the opinion of a untrained novice and I apologize sincerely etc etc), but I can't stand the clapping!

    Again Steve, thanks for the music and the score!
     
  13. OP
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    Pantonal

    Pantonal Senior Member

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    Nov 9, 2017
    Hi wlynn,

    Thank you for your comments, they are very much appreciated and made me dig up a score so I could know what you're talking about. One of the challenges in arranging a piece is whether you go with the strengths of the instruments your arranging for or do a more accurate transcription. In this case I opted for the latter because I wanted to get the sense of the piece as a choral work. If I do a string arrangement I'll probably drop the basses down an octave, except in places where I want the basses to sound like they're working hard (not sure if there's a place for that in this piece). I've just acquired Cinematic Studio Strings which will probably sound better than the Kirk Hunter library I used to make this recording.

    As for the harmony of this piece vs. the Crazy Fugue'n Piece, that's a perfect example of how the music can dictate where it wants to go. The Crazy Fugue is actually not atonal, fugues by definition have a strong tonic and dominant orientation. Because the theme modulates to the tritone the tonic and dominant aspect is significantly weakened, but not absent. It means the harmonic writing needs to be more creative in order to keep it sounding relatively normal. My first attempt was practically atonal and was not liked at all! Mostly because it lacked dramatic topology (my term for dramatic arch).

    Thanks again for your positive comments on Be Glad You are You. Sorry you can't stand the clapping, but I really believe in an actual choir performance the clapping would be what puts the piece over the top. Sadly, in this recording it does sound out of place.

    Steve
     

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